Young people from the Arab world – who align themselves with progressive principles, and who came of age witnessing the liberating moments of the Arab Spring – are shaped by the emancipatory potential of that experience, and therefore hold dramatically different worldviews from their reticent predecessors. In spite of its deep disappointments, this critical historic moment has generated a surge in political consciousness and desire for cultural freedom for this generation. However, the general return of the old guard, has made all forms of circulation of ideas and people nearly impossible due to crises or constrains imposed by authorities. The impact of this escalating oppressive state of affairs, has severe consequences for those who persist in challenging state power and its propaganda, ranging from very basic forms of censorship, to imprisonment or exile, even to forced disappearance.
In parallel on the global front, populism is on the rise, evidenced not only through sensationalist media but increasingly through the ballot box, and thus a rising tide of cultural essentialism is prevailing. Thus, the possibility of finding mainstream international support in this climate has not only dwindled but this discourse is actually enabling further deterioration of the situation.
Nonetheless, for the post-Arab Spring generation (those born in 1980s and 1990s), determining one’s own identity and authorship, and the freedom to express both has been internalized as an inalienable right. Their relentless commitment is evidenced by the surge in the exploration of past conventions, an insistence on re-defining previously accepted macro narratives, and impressive invention of new tools for circulating ideas and truths. The work they are producing, which increasingly crosses the boundaries of discipline and form, challenges mono-cultural stigmatization, contests official histories and narratives, and endorses the values of diversity, freedom of expression, social justice, and equality.
The crippling conditions in the region have also led to sweeping migration amongst artists, activists, journalists, and cultural workers. For these migrants (also refugees and asylum seekers), the challenges they face are different yet similarly complex socially, economically and politically. In their adopted contexts, they lack professional networks, relevant settings to cultivate their own discourse, adequate knowledge of the local scenes, and also face active marginalization, etc. These issues need to be managed structurally and cannot be resolved on an individual basis.
Using its own specialized knowledge, Mophradat is determined to create a new multidisciplinary venue for this post-Arab Spring community of artists, writers, programmers, musicians, curators and so forth. The site will initiate and host different projects, adapt to changing contingencies, and accommodate a diversity of practices. Referring to Sarah Ahmed’s quote, Mophradat’s experience has shown that the how and where to meet is a key determinate in finding ways to act collectively and effectively.
Since 2015, Mophradat has been experimenting with a new model of gathering through its program “Accomplices”. Accomplices’ carefully-crafted design ensures candid and informative conversations amongst like-minded peers take place, without the pressure of showcasing or delivery. Bringing everyone around the table to share their practice, exploring vulnerabilities and successes, has proven to be a much-needed empowering experience. Whereas the region’s cultural and intellectual communities are being dismantled and fragmented, gathering reinforces one of the best means of survival: Forming a strongly-knit community based on solidarity and exchange.
Furthermore, Mophradat recognizes that this post-Arab Spring generation operates with a fluidity of practice which is uniquely of the times. The collaborations and crossovers which are happening synthesize media, art, research, and activism, blurring the boundaries of these fields. It is precisely at this meeting point of disciplines that Mophradat’s work is most relevant and effective: In creating interdisciplinary, permissive, adaptable, and precisely curated sites and schemes. Over the past five years, Mophradat has also witnessed the growing impediments to working in the region due to the necessity to react and oppose in lieu of having opportunity to reflect and produce, therefore: Offering a simple, hospitable, and understanding environment for reflection and renewal is an urgency.